Major corporations continue to spend precious time and resources in support of radical leftist pressure groups and advancing their agenda, rather than trying to maximize their revenues in ways that don’t politically divide their customer base.
The latest example is a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a transgender student in Gloucester County, Virginia, who sued her school board because they would not allow her to use the men’s restroom at her high school. “Gavin” Grimm won at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Supreme Court stayed the decision until it could hear the case. Yesterday – after the Trump Justice Department reversed former President Obama’s policy guidance on the Title IX discrimination law upon which the case was based – the Supreme Court dropped Grimm’s lawsuit from its schedule, and remanded the case back to the 4th Circuit for renewed consideration under the new guidelines.
But nonetheless last week 53 companies moved to intervene in the case, before it had been removed from the calendar.
“[We] share core values of equality, respect and dignity for all people, regardless of their gender identity,” the corporations’ friend of the court brief said. “The Policy undermines… policies promoting fairness and equality for their employees and customers, and thus directly threatens amici’s business interests.”
The recognizable companies who were signatories included Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, eBay, Gap Inc., IBM Corporation, Intel, Lyft, Microsoft, Paypal, Salesforce, Twitter, Williams-Sonoma, and Yahoo!.
“These companies are sending a powerful message to transgender children and their families that America’s leading businesses have their backs,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Across the country, corporate leaders are speaking out because they know attacking transgender youth isn’t just shameful — it also puts the families of their employees and customers at risk.”
Apple criticized the policy change made by the Trump administration.
“Everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination,” the company said in a statement. “We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.”
And both Paypal’s and Salesforce’s CEOs issued comments as well when the friend of the court brief was announced.
“We seek to defend against actions that violate our values, which is why we have signed this amicus brief with other like-minded companies seeking to uphold critical protections against discrimination,” said PayPal’s Dan Schulman.
And Salesforce’s Marc Benioff Tweeted, “Let’s agree now to always love all our children, and that our schools will be safe places for all. #EqualityForAll.”
Nearly all the companies that supported Grimm had also signed on to a letter last year that condemned the State of North Carolina for its law that requires people to use restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificate, which overturned a Charlotte ordinance that allowed use of such public facilities based upon the nebulous “gender identity.”
Both Schulman and Benioff played significant roles in assisting the gay activist groups’ efforts to drive a political wedge in the battleground state. In March 2016 PayPal had announced it would expand activities at its Charlotte facility by adding 400 jobs, but in early April, Schulman canceled those plans, citing the state law known as “House Bill 2” or “the transgender bathroom law.”
“The new law perpetuates discrimination, and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” Schulman said at the time. “As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.”
Even more aggressively, Salesforce (a cloud computing company) CEO Benioff waged a national campaign to pressure North Carolina over the law. Benioff is known to enlist fellow corporate leaders to attack states that assert religious freedom rights on behalf of their citizens, such as Georgia and Indiana did over the last couple of years.
That’s what he did against North Carolina too. According to the Wall Street Journal, he reached out to Brian Moynihan, CEO of Charlotte-based Bank of America, and Deutsche Bank AG co-CEO John Cryan, to enlist their help in exerting pressure on NC Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-led NC General Assembly. Like PayPal, Deutsche Bank in April announced it would halt plans to expand operations in North Carolina that would have added 250 jobs. Also, Benioff helped gather commitments to endorse the protest letter against HB2 circulated by Human Rights Campaign and LGBT activist group Equality NC, which was signed by more than 100 CEOs of major corporations, including Moynihan.
Then in November liberal Web site BuzzFeed reported that PayPal and Salesforce co-hosted a summit on November 16 – in conjunction with groups including Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and the ACLU – to strategize against expected legislation in 2017 that does not comport with their radical agenda. The online news site said up to 100 leaders from business and LGBT groups attended the meeting.
“An invitation to the event…said the agenda would cover battleground states for next year’s legislative fights and ‘a strategic discussion around the various ways we can collaborate in each state,’” Buzzfeed reported. “Justin Higgs, a spokesperson for PayPal, added by email, ‘Through this event, we strive to play a part in helping businesses protect employees, customers, and families from discriminatory actions in communities where they live and operate.’”
Now here we are in 2017 with these corporations – many of them based in the Silicon Valley tech sector, who undoubtedly have significant numbers of customers and employees who don’t agree with their worldview – carrying out their agenda. Politics are more important to them than people or profits.
Paul Chesser is an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center.